All hail the holiday aunt: the most untraditional character in traditional Christmas films

Netflix’s “Single All the Way” — although part of an important transformation: a bumper crop of weird holiday movies — is kind of hard work. Its 1 hour 40 minutes run time appears to be much longer, probably because not much happens and none of it is unexpected. City dweller goes home for the holidays, and realizes that he loves the small town family life more than the big city rat race, and by the way, his old friend is about to become more than just a friend.

The only thing new is that the two romantic threads are both men – and hopefully soon, the dramatic queer life will be less modern in its own right and simply a part of many other stories. But there is a shining star on this rather meager tree. This is Aunt Christmas.

It is fermented. She is reckless. Her role is played by Jennifer Coolidge. Once a Broadway star (okay, off-Broadway; OK, a student), Aunt Sandy makes up a traditional Christmas story every year and gets the kids in her family to perform. One character describes the very loose-fitting adaptation as “like a play within a play”, a kind of birth of “disrupting noise”.

Related: Television’s first collection of whimsical Christmas movies ranging from saccharine fun to superficial failures

Then Aunt Sandy (College) enters the room singing “Joy to the World.” Wearing a leopard-print coat, rocking her bosom, and wearing already stolen Christmas tree earrings, she makes the phrase “God has come” to sound lewd. Because the aunt knows how to get in. late in fashion. Carry designer bags in the hands of leather gloves.

Aunt Karima. Get drunk easily and often. She is extreme. It breathes life into a tired movie. “I love it,” said visiting friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to Peter (Michael Urey), Aunt Sandy’s nephew.

Aunt loving. She hugs her nephew, who is more parental warmth and affection in most Christmas movies, tells him she loves him and is here for him, then catches his eye on his wrecked friend. “What a handsome new friend.”

Aunt Sandy calls it, as aunts always do. Aunts, like oracles who wear animal prints, know.

The aunt metaphor can be seen in recent Christmas holidays as “Holidate” (2020) where Aunt Susan (Kristen Chenoweth) inspires the main character (Emma Roberts) to find herself “Holidays”, a casual date that can be in addition to seasonal events such as family gatherings And New Years Eve parties, but no more than that. After the holidays, hollies should be discarded like torn gift wrapping. You can guess how this will happen.

Chenoweth’s aunt Susan is blonde hair and high heels, always appropriately dressed, even/especially if the occasion calls for a “sexy nurse costume”. She is a nude model for art class. She writes the name of the date on her arm because she does not remember it. Practically every scene, aunt’s holiday the reasons Scene.

It is not small. Most, but not all, vacation aunts are in their forties—or in Aunt Susan’s case, pretending to be in their forties—or fifties, which seems like the first Hollywood era to joke about mingling while also acknowledging the allure of sex. Aunt Eid is confident. She knows she’s amazing.

Kristen Chenoweth in “Holidate” (Steve Dietel/Netflix)

If the aunt is younger, as in “Happy Birthday”, she is not behaving appropriately. Aunt Jenny (Anna Kendrick) in the 2014 movie “Still Act Like” a baby girl, according to the movie’s tagline. Entrusted with babysitting, she texts her sister-in-law’s photos for “proof of life” for her nephew, and swears, “I’ll make him love me.” Die drunk in the hallway. She advised her sister-in-law to write a romance novel: “If there was sex in it, I would be so excited. It would be my favorite book of all time.”

Aunt is sexually positive. Aunt Sandy attends Grindr, and when she finds out that the subject of her affection is a gay man, she replies, “So what? I mean, people are into all kinds of things. Right?” Aunt Susan reassures her niece, while her date is there: “Your breasts look great in this dress.”

Not only does the holiday aunt support her gay nephew in Single All the Way, she also knows her gay icons, appearing as Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz in her Christmas pageant — which she dubbed “Jesus.” H. Christ” — recites in a Moira Rose accent, “Madonna’s pre-show prayer word for word of Truth or Dare to inspire pre-play child actors. Aunt Sandy is well aware that she is well on her way to becoming a queer icon herself.”

Regardless of Jenny from Kendrick, the aunt usually succeeds in Christmas movies. She puts it all together: she wears beautiful, expensive clothes, her hair and makeup always (at least, at the beginning of the night) – an ambitious hot mess.

In Lifetime’s 2020 “The Christmas Aunt,” the aunt gets to get her own movie. Beautiful and successful, Rebecca (Keshia Knight Pulliam) is still in an exciting job at an art gallery, and is still single – and the person her sister and mother calls at the last minute for childcare, knowing she can make it work. Not only does she toy with her demanding boss and take care of the kids, she even works Christmas magic in a house his parents didn’t have time to decorate. It reconnects with an old flame and also brings sparkle. “I’m going to need coffee,” she says. “Lots of coffee.”

Because the aunts are getting Christmas ** over. Her love interest tells her, “You’re killing her by the way, that whole auntie thing.”

Aunts have come a long way since the eccentric single aunt played sad laughs as Aunt Gladys in 1995’s “Home for the Holidays,” who confesses to a teenage kiss before the wine sips. Or even Aunt Gayle at “Bob’s Burgers” famous for ruining Thanksgiving for her sexual passions, her anxiety, and her cats.


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In 2014, holiday cards for one Bridget McCartney went viral. She cut her family’s cards because she was the only unmarried of her parents’ five children, she decided in 2010 to make her own. Over the years, McCartney’s Christmas cards with a spinster aunt twist have included pictures of her double-fist liquor, posing with a male mannequin in a pool, fainting at the dinner table (where all the other guests were McCartney herself), and sleeping. In holiday pajamas alone in the woods.

According to her Instagram, McCartney has been married for two years. No word if her husband appears in the Christmas card.

While the internet praised McCartney’s fun, creativity, and flexibility (her mom wasn’t happy with the cards), reviews also described Coolidge as stealing the scene in “Single All the Way.” Doesn’t the criminally talented Coolidge steal every scene she’s in?

But really, Auntie is the hero here. In the traditional Christmas movie genre, Auntie is the most unconventional person. It makes us believe that another life is possible.

We don’t have to give up our career and go home. We don’t have to give up on our childhood dreams of theatrical glory or leave the glamour behind as we age. We don’t have to marry the big guy. or Which a leg. We don’t have to get married or have kids at all because Auntie doesn’t. Aunt offers a different approach, a path to open herself – she designs a different kind of happiness, one she made herself, by living a bold life that she loves authentically.

“I’ll be right back,” Aunt Sandy tells her family at the pub after the Christmas pageant. “Or maybe not.”

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